Alex Fulton has been working in the wellness field for more than 20 years. She has written extensively about integrative medicine, herbalism, supplements and other topics related to holistic health. Alex also focuses on issues related to women's health, from menstruation to menopause. She has collaborated with physicians, midwives and functional medicine practitioners to promote natural approaches to health care for women. She has a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Full Bio
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Medically reviewed by Mary Jane Minkin, M.D.
How to Cope with Common Menopause Symptoms
More than 8 out of 10 women have symptoms
Image of 8 out of 10 women
Narrator: The menopause transition can cause many symptoms — and more than 8 out of 10 women will experience them. Knowing what to expect can help you cope.
Animated image of a woman in her late 40s sitting in a healthcare provider’s office. A female Black HCP enters the room.
Woman standing to shake HCP’s hand, then sitting back down
HCP sitting down across from woman
HCP: Hi, Michelle. What brings you in today?
Flashback to the last appointment, dressed in other clothes to be clear that it was the last time they spoke
Michelle: Hi, Dr. Smith. Remember how you brought up menopause at my last appointment?
HCP nodding her head
HCP: I do. We discussed the possibility that you were in perimenopause, the transition into menopause.
Go back and forth between the women, use a variety of shots — maybe medium closeups, closes up and long shots.
Michelle: I think you were right. I’m starting to have some symptoms, and I’m wondering what I can do about them.
HCP: I’m happy to help. What kind of symptoms are you having?
Michelle sitting at a desk in a cubicle when her face starts to get red and she breaks out into a sweat. She reaches over and switches on the fan on her desk.
Michelle: I think I’ve been getting hot flashes? I’ll be sitting at my desk when all of a sudden, I’m absolutely roasting. I have fans in every room now.
3 out of 4 women have hot flashes
HCP: Yep, that sounds like hot flashes. These sudden, brief increases in body temperature affect about 3 out of 4 of all women.
Michelle buttoning a long-sleeved shirt over a tank top.
Sounds like you’ve already figured out one way to cope with hot flashes — a fan. You can also try dressing in layers that can be removed at the start of a hot flash.
Michelle waking up drenched in sweat
Michelle: I’ve also woken up sweaty a few times lately, which is really keeping me from sleeping well.
Michelle wearing light pajamas (shorts and short sleeves), turning down a thermostat.
HCP: If hot flashes are waking you up at night, consider lowering your thermostat before bed, wearing lighter pajamas, and switching out your bedding for something more lightweight.
Michelle waking up refreshed in the same pajamas she was wearing when she turned down the thermostat
Hopefully those things will help. What other symptoms are you dealing with?
Michelle yelling at her husband and kids, then crying alone in her room.
Michelle: Well, my moods have been all over the place. One minute I’m raging, the next I’m crying. It’s a real treat for my family. (Laughs)
Perimenopause can cause mood swings
and anxiety and depression (have this second part come in separately so it’s broken up and easier to read)
HCP: (Laughs gently) Trust me, I get it. Mood swings are common during menopause, as are anxiety and depression.
Michelle walking outside.
Michelle: I’ve found that taking a walk really helps level me out. What else can I do?
HCP nodding her head approvingly.
HCP: That’s great that you’ve discovered how much exercise and being outside can improve your mood.
Michelle walking followed by her taking deep breaths
In addition to walking, you might find a calming practice like yoga or meditation helpful. In a pinch, simply taking a few deep breaths can work wonders for anxiety.
Michelle going into a yoga class
Michelle: Thanks for giving me a reason to get back to yoga class. But I’m guessing yoga isn’t going to help with another symptom I’ve been having: irregular periods.
[SUPER] About 7 out of 10 women have irregular periods
Michelle taking tampon out of her purse
HCP: I was going to ask about your cycle. Many women find that their periods become less regular as they move through menopause. It’s a good idea to always have pads or tampons with you, since you may spot or get your period when you're not expecting it.
Michelle writing down her periods on a calendar
Also, I’d like you to keep track of your periods, including how heavy they are. That way, we’ll be able to spot any potential red flags.
Michelle looking embarrassed
Michelle: There’s one more thing I wanted to mention, but it’s a little embarrassing.
Back to conversation with both people or image of the HCP
HCP: Please don’t be embarrassed. I’ve heard everything before.
People in bed with covers covering up their bodies and looking unhappy
Michelle: I’ve been having some, uh, discomfort during sex with my husband. It’s never been an issue before, but I’m assuming it’s related to menopause?
Most postmenopausal women experience
pain during sex
HCP: It is, and it’s very common, especially later in the menopause transition. Because of decreased levels of the hormone estrogen, many women experience vaginal dryness or irritation that can make sex less pleasurable.
Back to the two people in the office
Michelle: Is there anything I can do?
A bottle of lubricant, then an image of Michelle and a man sitting on a bed and talking.
HCP: Definitely. In the short term, I recommend a vaginal moisturizer to use regularly and a good lubricant during sex — and an honest conversation with your husband about the changes your body is going through. And if you can, try to continue having sex, as long as it isn’t uncomfortable or painful.
HCP and Michelle talking
If these suggestions don’t help and the discomfort gets worse, we can discuss other treatment options.
These might include over-the-counter remedies, hormone therapy or hormone-free medications.
Back to the people talking
Michelle: Okay, thanks. It’s good to know I have options.
Image of HCP smiling kindly
HCP: Yep, and lots of them.
Image of Michelle lying in bed wide awake, with clock on bedside table reading 3:00
Michelle: Now if only I could stop waking up at 3:00 a.m. every night, I’d be all set.
About 6 in 10 women have sleep problems related to menopause
HCP: Unfortunately, insomnia and other sleep problems are really common during the lead up to menopause.
Image of Michelle waking up to an alarm
Some of the things we talked about for dealing with night sweats could help with insomnia, too. I also recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time every day — even on the weekend.
Image of Michelle in bed reading a book, then setting it down and turning off the light
Michelle: I haven’t been able to sleep in since having kids, but I need to be better about setting a regular bedtime for myself.
Image of HCP nodding
HCP: I know it’s easier said than done, but it makes a difference.
Any other concerns you want to discuss today?
Image of HCP and Michelle talking
Michelle: I don’t think so. I can’t say I’m really looking forward to this whole menopause thing, but I feel more prepared to handle the symptoms now.
Image of the two women standing up and the HCP showing Michelle to the door.
HCP: That’s good. And by the way, many women actually find that they enjoy this stage of life because they come into their own and have increased confidence. Feel free to reach out with questions any time. And if the things we talked about don’t help, we can discuss other options, like hormone therapy.
Talk to your healthcare provider
Narrator: If you’re having trouble coping with menopause symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider. There are things you can do to ease the transition.
For more information, please visit HealthyWomen.org
This resource was created with support from Alora.
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